“The following are Noah’s offspring; Noah was a righteous man, pure in his generation.”
Rashi is bothered. If you’re going to introduce Noah’s offspring, don’t then interrupt with a reference to what a good guy Noah was and then name the kids (a verse later); just get to it.
Rashi explains that in fact the Torah’s listing Noah’s righteousness as his “children” is precisely correct.
“A person’s primary offspring in this world,” says Rashi, “are his good choices.”
In considering a woman in actual labor, one sees a clear and profound parallel between physical birth and personal growth. Through a process akin to labor, we give birth to a new and greater self.
Consider: a woman doesn’t choose the timing, duration, or intensity of her labor; it just comes. As the contractions intensify and repeat, her awareness of her pain can overwhelm her.
But, she can focus on the goal of giving birth, accepting the unavoidable presence of the pain while looking past it toward the gift of a new life.
In our journey of personal growth, we experience contractions. The challenges – unwanted thoughts, unpleasant obstacles, disappointing reversals – are like labor pains whose timing, duration, and intensity we don’t always choose. But our response to them we do choose. We can reconcile ourselves to the spiritual task, accept its attendant pain and look past it, knowing that the gift of a new and greater self is being born.
In this way, we become a conduit for new insight, new humility, new Divine gifts – in short, new life to come in to the world.
Wishing you mazal tovs on many peaceful births.